Kiese and Tressie both wrote for, to, and about those of us who carry Blackness with us everywhere we go. The thin white woman beside me folds her legs all the way up and gathers her knees to her chest. Her elbow is in my way and it nearly pokes me. “I’m so tiny,” […]
Music Monday: Swet Shop Boys, Junglepussy and Buscabulla
This week we celebrate Music Monday with a bang, injected with the extremely political Heems-Riz MC collaboration Swet Shop Boys, as well as their solo work. Other artists in this week’s playlist include the outspoken Junglepussy and Buscabulla.
This week, we’re featuring a ton of new work from some amazing folks: Barbagallo (Julien Barbagallo, the drummer from Tame Impala), Gabriel Garzon-Montano, Kali Uchis, SBTRKT, Gavin Turek, Rubblebucket and Marsha Ambrosius, as well as several timeless tracks.
This election hurt, and it did not just hurt for Americans. British-Pakistani actor and emcee Rizwan “Riz” Ahmed gets it. Known for his work in political film The Road To Guantanamo, the satirical Four Lions, and HBO’s series The Night Of, Riz more often than not circles back to back to his own heritage and experiences as a man of Pakistani descent in a world increasingly hostile toward such identities.
Not long ago, Ahmed found himself detained in an airport and assaulted by British security officers. In an essay penned for The Guardian, he recounts:
“British intelligence officers frogmarched me to an unmarked room where they insulted, threatened, and then attacked me. ‘What kinda film you making? Did you become an actor to further the Muslim struggle?’ an officer screamed, twisting my arm to the point of snapping.”
Sadly, this is not the 33-year-old actor’s first experience with aggressive security. He recounts those experiences in his essay, such as being selected for “random” security checks so often in a six month period — by the same older Sikh man — that he began referring to him with the familiar, respectful “Uncle.”
“I instinctively started calling him Uncle, as is the custom for Asian elders. He started calling me ‘beta,’ or son, as he went through my luggage apologetically. It was heart-warming, but veered dangerously close to incest every time he had to frisk my crotch.”
Junglepussy is outrageously funny, serving both intelligent lyrics and brilliant style in songs like “Bling Bling” (on the playlist) and “Nah” (featured here in video form).
The former Fashion Institute of Technology student still shows tremendous style in everything she does, including letting men know that she values herself more than to just be tied down in the song “Bling Bling.”
When Elle magazine asked Junglepussy whether or not her work is fictional, she said:
“Some stuff is fantasy. I like to share dreams — like me napping on Jill Scott’s tits. Me wanting to see Fefe Dobson lit on social media, that’s a dream. But I do like to share real-life experiences. All I have is me, my life, my thoughts, my mind. That’s all I have to share with people. Hopefully people will like them for a long time.”
While Junglepussy has not recently put out any solo work, it’s always worth revisiting and enjoying her older music. And if you’ve got complicated feelings about her name, don’t sweat it.
“It’s not my government name! You can use J.P., J-Puss,” she tells Spin. “There’s so many remixes to it, you know? Have fun with it, I’m not asking you to tattoo it on your children’s foreheads.”
Queens-based rapper Heems is also, sadly, used the struggles Riz MC shared earlier. In fact, such experiences inspired the two to collaborate as the brilliant Swet Shop Boys.
Himanshu Suri (Heems) started out as one-half of the playfully satirical Das Racist. Heems was inspired by a group of his classmates at Wesleyan — including the musicians behind MGMT — and their early success. He has since founded the label Greedhead Music and joined up with Riz MC to create Swet Shop Boys.
The wickedly funny rapper discusses serious issues in songs like “Patriot Act” and “Shopping For Flags.” He went to India to gain perspective on himself and his family’s history to produce his album Eat Pray Thug. He explains the title to NPR:
“Thug comes from Thuggee. And Thuggees were these groups of bandits who would go around — they had razor blades in their bandanas and they’d just put the bandana on the neck of a British colonial. They would just like run up on these groups of traveling British people and just kill ’em, steal their s—-. And I don’t think — so somebody’s like, ‘Look at this guy talking about he’s a thug now all of sudden. This hipster kid.’ Or whatever. And it’s not even about that. It’s about the nature of language and where language comes from. And just that, yeah. Maybe a reclamation of the word thug, in a sense.”
Buscabulla gets its name from the Spanish slang word for “trouble maker.” The duo is composed of Puerto Rican designer and Brooklyn resident Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle. Born and raised in Puerto Rico but based in New York City, the duo has created a hybrid sound they like to call “the Caribbean music of the future.”
Paying homage to icon Frankie Ruiz, the band fully channels the musician’s “salsa erotica” in the video for the band’s latest single, “Tártaro.”
The video was shot in Puerto Rico’s famed sex nest, Hotel OK, in order to get the full vibe of Ruiz’s work.
“The song is a love letter to him, referencing some of his most famous lyrics, many of them about sex motels, extramarital affairs, and passionate encounters,” singer and frontwoman Raquel Berríos said in an interview with Remezcla.
“We basically smuggled our cinematographer in the trunk two nights in a row, while encountering very sticky/gross situations that I won’t go into detail about.”